I wrote nothing of summer, high or late,
nothing of the kingfisher fishing on
the pooled river Irt, nothing of the loosestrife
and downy oat-grass I lay in while I watched;
and that was the easy part, the flashy
feathers of morning, the sheep in circles
of shade beneath ash and oak, generous
sycamore by midday. I’d left my car
in Nether Wasdale, walked to Strangends,
Foxbield Wood, crossed the river at Hollins,
and then Santon Bridge, Mecklin Bridge,
through Greengate Wood, over Forest Bridge.
At Cinderdale I expected dusk; the word
itself was full of it, the cinders of the day.
But at the triangular crossroads, a place
steeped in human pause, something palpable
as the heat from a coal fire in winter
blazed up in my face. The highest reaches
of the beech were flame and they were water.
The green sun, the red cattle, the white sheep –
everything primary-bright, solid, and yet
see-through. For a long while as I looked
into the heart of the valley, the silence,
I could only think of opposites – it was life
or death I was being shown. But as I write,
as I write now, I think it was continuance,
or to use a word as poetic as Cinderdale –
About the Author
Helen Farish was born in Cumbria in 1962, where she now lives. She has been a Fellow at Hawthornden International Centre for Writers and was the first female Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust (2004-05). She has also been a Visiting Lecturer at Sewanee University, Tennessee, a Visiting Scholar at the University of New Hampshire, and a lecturer in the department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University.
Her debut collection Intimates (Cape, 2005), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her audio CD Helen Farish reading from her poems was released by the Poetry Archive in 2009. Her second poetry book, Nocturnes at Nohant: The Decade of Chopin and Sand, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2012. Her third collection, The Dog of Memory, published by Bloodaxe in 2016, was shortlisted for the Lakeland Book of the Year 2017. Helen Farish was also a Writer of the Year Finalist in the Cumbria Life Culture Awards 2017.
More information can be found at: www.helenfarish.co.uk.